For over twelve years, from 1949 through 1962 (including a one year hiatus in 1954-1955), this series recounted the cases "the man with the action-packed expense account, America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator, Johnny Dollar". Johnny was an accomplished 'padder' of his expense account. The name of the show derives from the fact that he closed each show by totaling his expense account, and signing it "End of report... Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar".
Terry Salomonson in his authoritative "A Radio Broadcast Log of the Drama Program Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar", notes that the original working title was "Yours Truly, Lloyd London". Salomonson writes "Lloyd London was scratched out of the body of (the Dick Powell) audition script and Johnny Dollar was written in. Thus the show was re-titled on this script and the main character was renamed. Why this was done was unclear – possibly to prevent a legal run-in with Lloyd’s of London Insurance Company." Although based in Hartford, Connecticut, the insurance capital of the world, freelancer Johnny Dollar managed to get around quite a bit – his adventures taking him all over the world.
There were some unusual devices used in the show that help set it apart from other shows. There was no partner, assistant, or secretary for Johnny. The character closest to a continuing role was that of Pat McCracken of the Universal Adjustment Bureau, who assigned Johnny many of his cases. Another atypical aspect gave the show additional credibility – frequently, characters on the show would mention that they had heard about Johnny’s cases on the radio. Johnny often used his time when filling out his expense accounts to give the audience background information or to express his thoughts about the current case.
No fewer than eight actors played Johnny Dollar. Dick Powell, of Rogue’s Gallery fame, cut the original audition tape, but chose to do Richard Diamond, Private Detective instead. Gerald Mohr, of The Adventures of Philip Marlowe fame, auditioned in 1955, prior to Bob Bailey getting the title role. Through the first three actors to play Johnny Dollar (Charles Russell, Edmond O'Brien, and John Lund), there was little to distinguish the series from many other radio detective series. Dollar was just another hard-boiled detective in a medium that was overloaded with the stereotype. Charles Russell, the first to play the role, would throw silver dollars to bellboys and waiters. Luckily, this trite gimmick did not survive long.
On October 3, 1955, after a hiatus of over a year, the show came back with a vengeance. A new production team, including director/writer Jack Johnstone, a new star, Bob Bailey, from the radio series Let George Do It, and a new format would set the series apart from its competitors. Johnny's cases were now a continuing serial, five days a week, for fifteen minutes each evening. With 75 minutes of airtime, minus commercials and openings and closings, there was sufficient time to develop good storylines and interesting characters.
During this time, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar attracted some of the best writers in Hollywood, including Jack Johnstone, E. Jack Neuman (using the pen name John Dawson), Robert Ryf, and Les Crutchfield. Bob Bailey also wrote a script while he was playing Johnny Dollar. He used the pen name Robert Bainter (Bainter was his middle name) as the scriptwriter for "The Carmen Kringle Matter", which was aired on Saturday, December 21, 1957 on the West Coast, and on the following day for the rest of the country.
Bob Bailey, generally thought of as the most popular of the Johnny Dollars, brought a new interpretation to the character – tough, but not hard-boiled; streetwise, but not overly cynical, Bailey's Dollar was smart and gritty when he had to be. But Bailey's Johnny Dollar was also human. His character would get emotionally involved in a number of his cases. He had a streak of impatience, and would occasionally not fully listen to a witness and rush off on a tangent before realizing his mistake.
The weekday serialized episodes are generally acknowledged as some of the finest radio detective shows ever produced. There were fifty six multi-part shows in all: fifty four five-part shows, one six-part show, and one nine-part show. The serialized episodes continued until November 2, 1956 when the series again reverted to a once a week, thirty minute format. Bob Bailey continued in the lead, until "The Empty Threat Matter" of November 27, 1960, when the Hollywood run ended.
The guest stars and supporting casts were always first rate, attracting the best radio actors in both Los Angeles and New York. Pat McCracken was played by several actors – most frequently, by Larry Dobkin. Particularly noteworthy was the work of Virginia Gregg, who played many roles, including Johnny's girlfriend Betty Lewis. Harry Bartell was also a frequent guest, who did many of the Spanish dialect roles when Johnny went to a Latin American country. Other frequent guest performers were Parley Baer, Tony Barrett, John Dehner, Don Diamond, Sam Edwards, Herb Ellis, Frank Gerstle, Stacy Harris, Jack Kruschen, Forrest Lewis, Howard McNear, Marvin Miller, Jeanette Nolan, Vic Perrin, Barney Phillips, Jean Tatum, Russell Thomson, Ben Wright, and Will Wright. Vincent Price co-starred as himself in "The Price of Fame Matter" and went to Europe with Johnny on the case.
In December 1960, the show moved to New York. Robert Readick started the New York run as Dollar, but only lasted a short while. Jack Johnstone continued to write for the show and submitted scripts from California. Johnstone wrote about 350 Johnny Dollar scripts under his own name and his pen names Sam Dawson and Jonathan Bundy. Johnstone wrote the last episodes of both Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense. He used the Bundy pen name when writing the last Suspense episode, "Devilstone".
And so, an era passed. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was the last continuing detective series of the Golden Age of Radio. Mandel Kramer was the last Johnny Dollar, and a close second in popularity to Bailey, when the final episode, "The Tip-Off Matter", was aired on September 30, 1962.
NOTE: Updated Release! Version 2 is now 22 CDs (vs 14 CDs for Version 1). Some new episodes, new encodes, new information -- lots of changes! (29-Mar-2013)
OTRR Certification Information:
Series Name: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar Certification Status: OTRR Certified Accurate Certification Date: November 6, 2013 Certification Version: Version 2 Number of CDs: 22
Material for this description was prepared by Stewart Wright.
From the Old Time Radio Researcher's Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
If you are interested in preserving Old Time Radio (OTR), you may wish to join the Old Time Radio Researchers Group at Yahoo.
Relax, listen, and enjoy!
OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that is Certified Accurate indicates that all the episodes are properly identified and labeled but that the series does not contain all known extant episodes.
OTRR Certified Complete -- A series that is Certified Complete is the highest level of certification available under the OTRR Certified Standards. This certification level implies that all the files in the series are Certified Accurate but also indicates that the series is as complete as possible – it includes all extant episodes.
OTRR Non-Certified -- A collection of shows that has not gone through the OTRR Certification process.
NOTE: There are no passwords for any of our ZIP files. If you are prompted for a password, before downloading the file again, try unzipping the file into a shorter full folder path name -- for example, unzip to "C:\" instead of "C:\Documents and Settings\your_Windows_ID\some_other_folder\". Sorry, some of our releases contain long folder and file names, which sometimes manifests itself on the Windows platform as prompting for a password for the ZIP file. Or try renaming the ZIP file itself to a shorter name before unzipping.
Reviewer:Den NC USA
April 23, 2017 Subject:
Over 14Gb download, worked just now for me
Just saying for the newbie that this is a big download! It take some time, and space on your fixed disk/hard drive. (I've un-zipped most already, no problem).
Months ago, I got the Bob Bailey shows first on single shows download here, since I became a fan of Johnny Dollar listening as a kid in the late 50's in my bed with a glowing radio dial on my desk, when Bob was Johnny Dollar.
It's a great show, and does veer off into the whimsy (talking dog and singing mice episodes, although the singing mice were a Christmas-themed show, and thus were like the Dragnet, or TV Twilight Zone shows that tugged at the heartstrings too).
However, the next show might be a real adventure, with unexpected characters, and gripping dialogue. With YT,JD you never know (as did Johnny) where the case might lead.
A classic that I still settle in on a rainy day to enjoy, and often go to sleep or listen to late into the night.
Thanks to all those (perhaps a few left) who were a part of the show, or gave their talents to make it a wonderful part of the American Entertainment pantheon. And OTRR and archive.org for sharing the wealth. Share some with them.
I place Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar right up there in the top handful of greatest radio drama shows ever made.
April 4, 2014 Subject:
Guidance on the new set
For those who just want to listen to the Bob Bailey 5-part serials, they begin with CD #9 and end on CD #14.
This is a great set -- big improvements compared to the prior one, and some "new" shows.
March 30, 2014 Subject:
Appreciate all the hard work you did!
I appreciate all the hard work your team did on this Version 2. I've listened to the first two shows in this version and they are of excellent quality and tagged great. I can hardly wait to replace all of my version 1. Thanks again for the future enjoyment listening to this new version.
March 2, 2014 Subject:
can you give us a timeframe for the updates?
I have listened to all of the YTJD from 1995 to 1962, the 5 part episodes with Bob Bailey are very well done. Mandel Kramer is also good, I have heard him on the CBS Mystery Radio Theatre many times. well done and different from the many of the other radio detectives
July 9, 2011 Subject:
This may have led my brother into the business.
Seems like I didn't have all the programs. Now I will have to go through and sort my files out. I think this was the best of the radio programs.
Well, I got a MESS o' these "YoursTruly,JohnnyDollar" but I dunno if I got all the ones here or not.
I can say that the dating format doesn't mess me up much..... I got a free (off the net) file re-namer that does an absloutely splendid job of file name fixin. In the case of mm/dd/yy date formatting, I moved each year's episodes to a single dedicated directory then removed all the superfluous titling; then added the 2 digit yrar codeat the beginning, then the show title (_YoursTryly,JohnnyDollar-), then the Episode #- finally the episode title.
My filenames look like this: 500224_YoursTruly,JohnnyDollar-(0038)- Disappearance of Bruce Lambert.mp3
... for about some 60,000 episodes of around 900 different show titles.
I do a 'search' for " ??0706*.mp3 " and 'Poooof' I have from 80 to 150 shows originally broadcast on July 6th - - from early 30's to the 70's.
Postscript for folks asking about the file re-namer that I use.
It is on www.1-4a.com known as 1-4a rename.exe
With some real intuition you can even get it to rearrange multiples in files...
episode # - date - Programe nane - episode title
Ep-124 - 29Feb1940 - Uncle Bob's Stories - Uncle Bob Stutters
date_Programme Name-(Episode#)-Episode title
July 14, 2009 Subject:
One of my favorites
This is just to say a big thank you to the OTTR Group for the YTJD series. I'm especially grateful for the Merged Multi-Parts Sets included in CD 12. The option of listening to these YTJD adventures straight through is a real bonus. To date I've enjoyed the first three. What strikes me most - apart from the quality of the show itself - is the clarity and richness of the sound, with nary a snap, crackle or pop to be heard.
I note from the YTJD logs that there are 55 of these multi-part adventures. So far, 19 have been edited into single mp3 files. At the risk of sounding greedy, does anyone know if there are plans to produce additional merged files? (And yes, I know I could have a try at this myself using the single shows available, but I doubt the results would anywhere near as impressive.)
June 29, 2009 Subject:
Great show. I really like mid-twentieth century radio serials. It's a lot of fun to hear old stories, sound effects, and voices. The commercials are a lot of fun too!
I don't like the formatting, however. Because the "album" is listed as MM/DD/YY Episode #, it clumps all the January, February, etc. episodes across the series together instead of in order of episode number. It makes it a royal pain to sort through. In the future, please just list the episode number before the date and it'll all be solved. Thanks!
May 19, 2009 Subject:
If you have better encodes, let the OTRR know about it.
You can join OTRR at their yahoo group, and I'm quite sure that if you have better quality files (or even better, originals) of this series that they will be happy to use them. I'm grateful that the OTRR has even taken the attempt to preserve Old Time Radio in this fashion; I know of no other group or person that has preserved as many radio broadcasts as they have, and as a volunteer labor of love.
April 15, 2009 Subject:
A horrible presentation of an enjoyable series.
The "OTRR" (whoever they are) does themselves a disservice here. While certain scattered episodes are okay, a large amount (nearly three out of every four on CD #7, for instance) are re-encodes of damaged 32kbps mp3s. Some others seem to have originated from ancient 4-bit .WAV files - the quality on those is positively dreadful, sounding like they were recorded from an international long distance phone call.
Let me make this clear: I don't mind poor sound - I'm an avid listener of audience recordings of Frank Zappa concerts, for instance, and some of those sound pretty funky. A distant, hissy tape is one thing - that's completely understandable, and part of the nature of the business. However, when the source material has been willfully butchered through bad encoding, it really puts a damper on my enjoyment. Whole sentences can be clipped out due to the previous bad encoding, and there is no way I would recommend listening to any of these on headphones due to the near-constant stream of random "BLIP" and "BLOP" sounds.
It's a shame, too, as Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar is a fantastic show. It's certainly not "High Art", but in its prime (the Bob Bailey serials), it delivers exactly what's demanded - an engaging story, solid performances, and the occasional make-you-groan in-joke (listen to Mr. Dollar deadpan that he isn't familiar with the concept of a "serial" in the first episode of "the Matter of the Medium, Well Done"). Once the serials were ditched in favor of weeklies, the quality does take a bit of a nosedive - a lot of the post-serial shows are either too goofy (such as when Johnny Dollar is put on the pursuit of a talking dog) or just too inconsequential to be really enjoyed, relying too much on deux ex machinas midway through the second act, and offering lightweight stories which can be effectively summarized in three sentences or less without leaving much out. But those serials are classic, prime OTR, and there are enough solid episodes amongst the "weeklies" to merit a sort-through.
It's just a shame that so little attention has been paid to encoding. Here's hoping the OTTR is out there and able to give us a version 2.0 soon.
My star rating is weighted towards these files, rather than the series they depict.
May 9, 2008 Subject:
This Is Great Stuff
Bob Bailey is a hoot, and the writing is super. If you have a pulse, you can help but be entertained from these jewels from the golden age of radio.
The audio quality is decent for the period and I'm just thankful these episodes are still available.
April 3, 2008 Subject:
from a user
I've been trying to download Johnny Dollar from this page: http://www.archive.org/details/OTRR_Certified_Yours_Truly_Johnny_Dollar for several weeks. Some of the CDs don;t download completely, and the pieces that do make it are damaged (mostly repairable with Zip Repair Tool). For example, CDs 9 and 10 allow me to get from 97 meg to 230-ish meg, but never the whole thing.
August 1, 2007 Subject:
Problems with files
4 of 14 & 12 of 14 gave errors while unzipping, and
their file size was different than whats stated on the
The "Phony Phone Matter" in zip 10 skips a bit, and esp
at the end.
The "Top Secret Matter" in zip 11 the last 10 or more
seconds are cutt off.
Zip 10 file size is 643M but website states it is 653M
Which taking into account that other zips in this Certified
page seem to have problems with file size, and problems
unzipping, makes me wonder if there are files missing.
I jump around in the files downloaded, so there could be
more problems, I havent downloaded them all as of yet.
The program itself is excellent, of course the best are with Bob Bailey, my rating reflects the show, and not the rating of the downloaded zip files. Which a few seem to have problems that need to be resolved.